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Bob Baffert’s Grade I winning Noted and Quoted, along with Doug O’Neill’s Grade III winner Shane’s Girlfriend and Jerry Hollendorfer’s rousing maiden winner Unique Bella head a strong field of nine sophomore fillies in Sunday’s Grade II, seven furlong Santa Ynez Stakes—an important steppingstone to the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks here on April 8.
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m.
#8 Shane’s Girlfriend – There is no doubt in my mind this will be the race of the weekend. It should be an absolute showdown between the talented fillies Shane’s Girlfriend and Unique Bella, and really this is not something we get to see very often in early January. These two fillies are my top two Kentucky Oaks prospects as of now so there isn’t much separating the two of them in my eyes. The small factor that pushed Shane’s Girlfriend on top for me was the fact she has some stakes experience plus a win over the track in her maiden debut. When trying to separate these two awesome fillies that was the only factor I could come up with as this looks to be an even match up in all other areas. This is a must see duel!
#3 Unique Bella – If you are looking for the next Songbird this filly could be it! Same trainer…same jockey…same talent?? I’m not ready to put that kind of label on her yet, but there is no doubt that her maiden win last time out caught everybody’s eye in a big way. However, she’ll have her hands full today as Shane’s Girlfriend could be something very special as well. Unique Bella has been training lights out leading up to this race, but how will she react when running with the likes of Shane’s Girlfriend? My guess is that she’ll react well, but for now I’m going with the more established horse on top. However, for obvious reason I will not be surprised in the least bit if Unique Bella gets the win on Sunday.
#6 Noted and Quoted – It’s pretty impossible to get any kind of read on this filly, and you’d think she has to be driving trainer Bob Baffert crazy. She has always been highly regarded ever since her disappointing debut at Del Mar. After that debut she returned next time out to win by 9 lengths so it looked as though the lightbulb came on, but she then ran fourth in a stakes to round out the Del Mar meet. However, she rebounded once again to win he Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita two races back, but once again threw in a clunker when finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last time out. Now she’s back in this very tough spot against what might be the two current top choice for the Kentucky Oaks. I can’t totally forget about her, but if she beats the top 2 in this race it would be a big surprise.
#5 Princess Karen – Anyone not named Shane’s Girlfriend or Unique Bella winning this race would be a huge surprise, but for the long shot players Princess Karen seems to be the right choice. She only has one race under her belt, but that race was a very impressive win at Santa Anita at the same distance as this race is today. She also beat two comeback winners in that race who are also entered here today as well. I won’t be placing any money on her, but if you like long shots then this is your horse.
#2 Sandy’s Surprise – Was non-completive in the Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos, and this is a much tougher spot today even though it’s a Grade 2 vs. a Grade 1. Unique Bella or Shane’s Girlfriend probably could have won that race by open lengths.
#1 Resilient Humor – Has ran only one race, but that one race was a win in a maiden special weight at Los Alamitos. However, the speed number didn’t come back all that high so she will have to run faster today. Tough task to ask…
#7 Go On Mary – Didn’t match up at all in the Grade 1 Starlet last time out, and there are two horses in this race that are better than anything she faced in that one. Outclassed today and is probably entered so the field isn’t so thin.
#9 It Tiz Well – It seems very odd to be throwing out a 10 length maiden winner last time out who is also trained by Jerry Hollendorfer…but lets face it she can’t match up with her stable mate Unique Bella. If she does I think it would be a shock to both me and Hollendorfer. This could be a nice filly though, but she’s not a monster.
#4 Carrie – Should not have much of a chance to be competitive today based on her past performances. Is outclassed in a big way.
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